Starling’s model: to be profitable

Starling’s model: to be profitable. A different take to using emoji in communications, changing your app icon for various causes and squandering £millions of other peoples money, perhaps?


I’m really taken by the simplicity of message with Starling. No forum distraction.

I thought they were arrogant in shutting down the forum. Not so.

Quietly and resolutely focused on the big picture.


Shutting down the forum was probably the right thing to do as it removed a distraction. The way that they did it reflects poorly on their commitment to customers. But I accept it’s a balancing act.

All that aside, I do like Starlings model.

Emoji neither attract or repel me. The app icon can be as many colours as it likes for me… It’s an icon, there are real problems out there. It’s just not worth the energy getting worked up over.

But, as said above, everything is simple and straight forward. I also understand it better…

It’s a business that understands it’s a business, it’s not a business that desperately wants to be a social movement.


Nicely put.


Agreed. I always felt that the mismanagement of the shutdown seemed to come more from having taking the decision (strategically) to shut it and then just straight away going ahead with implementing it, presumably so the people who had spent their time moderating it wouldn’t have to any more. So it always seemed like poor execution of the decision, to me, rather than a deliberate slap in the face to customers. Although, at the time, that didn’t really matter since it still upset customers anyway.

I also like a business that behaves like it’s a business, and I don’t really want my main bank to be engaging in social causes, to be blunt. It is just not the place for a bank, and it does come across as a distraction.

People could say, “well, what’s the harm in an icon?” but the basic point is that it’s something they have been spending time on when that time could probably have been used productively on a core banking feature or function. I personally know which I’d prefer.

Dittto the emojis, I’m not offended by the emojis but if I’m using the Chat feature, I just want to talk to my bank to help me sort out a problem. I don’t want the interaction to be slowed down with gratutious emojis and carefully crafted “tone of voice” responses - speed is probably what is important to me!

Edit: Also, nice shawl (as always) in Anne’s picture there!

It’s that, but it’s not just that.

Making a big song and dance, and then ignoring some customers, over an icon change is crass. They’ve misjudged it. They’re very good at misjudging things.

The icon change for a particular cause smacks of virtue signalling. I’m not entirely convinced that changing an icon ”to show solidarity” really helps any of the people intended? I’d liken it to claps for the NHS. A nice gesture but it didn’t help anyone except for “you” to feel better about yourself.

Monzo has an awful long way to go in order to improve ethnic diversity. Here’s their latest report:

…notwithstanding the fact they sacked their diversity and inclusion manager earlier in the year.

When they speak about diversity and inclusion it seems to be predominantly ethnic diversity. And that’s important.

What seems to be lost is gender diversity, to an extent, and age diversity particularly so.

On the age issue (yes, age is a protected characteristic) the Monzo workforce is heavily skewed towards very young people. It’s exciting to see how young people, with new ideas, can disrupt thinking. But they’ve lacked experience and foresight and have been convinced of their own arrogance.

Children’s accounts, for example. Monzo misjudged it. Most of their workforce young and, perhaps, not yet starting a family. Or have started one but have very young children. So, for them, kids accounts are not on their radar despite many requests for it in the community.

Yes, Starling has ‘something’ with its Kite card for kids but legacy banks like RBS and Barclays still have better solutions.

Then there’s other aspects of diversity and inclusion that they need to embrace. Such as neurodiversity. They should celebrate this.

Unfortunately, I think they’re jumping onto a BLM bandwagon, a little too late, as they try to signal virtues. It smacks of Barclays sticking a rainbow icon on their app to cash in on Pride.

Banks have an important role to play in diversity and inclusion and in ethical business practises. Changing an app icon to suit the current social media mood should not be a priority.


Yes, and the Barclays change didn’t go down too well either.

At a guess, it was probably Megan Caywood’s idea after she joined them from Starling, it got pushed through and then once there was backlash, that got noticed by high-ups and Barclays decided not to do it again. That’s my reading, at least.

I was just using the icon thing to make a general point about lack of focus on banking, and more on social causes, but I think the way you have widened this out to also mention those other issues is really pause for thought too.

I agree that it all feels a bit off, and seems to be virtue signalling, and that does nobody any favours. In fact, it does make me feel uncomfortable because what it is ultimately doing is using a genuine movement like pride, for example, and just co-opting it for marketing purposes. So it both fails to support the actual cause and corrupts the message by using the symbolism for the sake of it, rather than it’s intended purpose. At least Revolut’s pride card was designed to help support an LGBT charity.


Yes. Absolutely. It’s cynical, cheap and distasteful at a time when more work should be done on improving diversity and inclusion across all areas. The business will be richer for it.


Indeed, and that requires real effort - not
just lip service!

Going back to the article, another thought has just occurred to me. When Anne was talking about female executives, do you think she might have meant Debbie Crosbie at TSB? Perhaps Anne has confidence that they actually will be able to pull-off the digital transformation that they have long been promising.

If so, it would be more competition for Starling! Although I don’t personally think they have much to worry about.

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Informative, well written, balanced.

That’s what this thread is: Oh - and enjoyable to read. Well crafted, you guys.